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Sizzling Summer Decorating

Patrick J. Baglino, Jr., one of America’s top young designers, shares tips and trends for your summer decorating.

Patrick J. Baglino, Jr

There’s just nothing like throwing open the doors and windows for the first time each spring to bring all that fresh air and light indoors. It’s a feeling you want to capture all summer long, especially in the hot, turgid days of July and August. Washington D.C.-based interior designer Patrick J. Baglino, Jr., ASID, ( welcomes the change of seasons as the perfect opportunity to bring changes into your home, whether it’s de-cluttering or simply exchanging dark accessories for light. Baglino, who as a child used to change his bedspread and curtains with the seasons, was recently voted one of America’s top young designers by House Beautiful. Here, his tips and trends for decorating this summer:

Outdoor rooms
I love eclectic design, but I also believe it’s very important to have a harmonious design statement. You don’t want to go from a home that’s traditional with contemporary accents to a very minimal Italian design porch that sort of comes out of left field. Even though an outdoor room is an extension of the home, it should still convey the feel and look of what’s happening inside. However, it can be set apart from the feel of the house by the use of different fabrics, maybe something a little livelier than what you’d have in your living room. Accessories are huge in terms of creating interest and flair. Bring in a really cool lamp or some beautiful indoor/outdoor rugs. (I love the plynl floor coverings by Chilewich.) Whereas in the past you’d go into a home and garden store and see a basic patio set with two choices for cushions, now you can have an outdoor sofa upholstered with fabric you choose, and add floor coverings and other details that will make an outdoor room really feel like a room.

Trend: I’m seeing a lot of bright colors. They’re not my first choice; I tend to go with tone-on-tone neutrals. I love earthen tones, especially in a room that’s going to create a bridge between the inside of the house and the outdoors. But there’s a definite trend toward brighter colors and stronger patterns. If your outdoor room is a screened-in porch, remember those things are going to be there pretty much year round, so be sure you can live with them that long.

A summer look for indoor rooms
As a kid, I used to change the look of my room with the season, just like my mother did in our living room. She had draperies in silk linen blends and then in the fall and winter she went to velvet and satin, with more trim. They were heavier and had more impact, and were definitely congruent with the time and season.

You can easily bring the summer months into your home simply by changing things like throw pillows in the living room. Instead of dark burgundy velvet pillows, maybe get beige linen with a crewel stitch of burgundy flowers, something that’s just lighter. In the bedroom instead of dark paisley bed linens get something fresh like white Frette hotel linens with a single blue stripe. Just lighten it up! And get rid of clutter. I’m really, really big on the clutter thing. Use going into a new season as an opportunity to go into drawers, closets and countertops and remove those things that are collecting dust and taking up space. It definitely gives you a fresh, light sense of relief.

Trend: Bring outdoor fabrics inside. Many manufacturers are creating beautiful fabrics made by Sunbrella that can be used to upholster furniture for either inside or out. I had a client with small children who wanted to have attractive fabrics for their family room and chose outdoor fabrics because of their stain resistance. Just last week I received a collection of Ralph Lauren fabrics done in Sunbrella.

Sunny inspiration
If you’re going to a summer home, you’ve got to turn to the surrounding environment for inspiration and bring that in. I just finished a condo in Bal Harbour, Florida. That client has a very formal home here with a crystal chandelier and silk drapery and cornices. In Bal Harbour I did a colorful glass table with a steel base and a light lilac and tangerine color scheme. It’s not something I would do in Washington, but in Miami it worked very well.

I’m really big on borrowing from our surroundings and seeking inspiration from what’s around us. I always believe first and foremost that in design it’s very much about who we are—what makes us comfortable and happy, what we need in order to function. But our environment has an impact on what we create for ourselves. What kind of home is it? Is it in the suburbs, or an urban dwelling, or on a beach or in the mountains?

Tip: I love to have clients get away from picking up a catalogue and saying, "Wow, a ready-made room. I’ll take that." It doesn’t allow you to express yourself. You may feel you don’t know how to put a room together and figure out where this goes and where that goes, but most people know what they like and what they don’t like. Put together a style file with paint colors, a lamp from a magazine ad, rooms or furniture that you like, then look at all those elements as the beginning of your personal style. This is what you respond to.

Kathy McCleary is a frequent contributor to She lives and writes in Falls Church, Virginia. Read more of her articles here.

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